There are significant gaps in our trauma and emergency healthcare delivery systems, and trauma is the leading killer of Americans under the age of 44. Over the years, the AANS and CNS have worked tirelessly to urge Congress to provide full funding for the trauma and emergency care regionalization programs, which would support grants to states to improve critically needed state‐wide trauma care systems and pilot projects to develop models for regionalizing emergency care.
On Feb. 25, 2014, Reps. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Tex.); and Gene Green (D-Tex.) introduced H.R. 4080, the “Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act.” The bill was then immediately passed by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on Feb. 27, 2014. This legislation would reauthorize crucial programs that provide grants to states for planning, implementing and developing trauma-care systems, and establish pilot projects to design, implement and evaluate innovative models of emergency-care systems. These programs would again be authorized at $12 million each for fiscal years 2015-2019.
The AANS and CNS sent a letter to Reps. Burgess and Green supporting this legislation as it is based on recommendations issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its groundbreaking report in June 2006, “Future of Emergency Care in the United States Health System.” These grant programs address the current tragic situation that injured and ill Americans across the country face each day. To alleviate this problem, the IOM called for a complete overhaul of our nation’s emergency and trauma care by creating a coordinated and regionalized system of care modeled after the Trauma Systems program. According to the report, the “objective of regionalization is to improve patient outcomes by directing patients to facilities with optimal capabilities of any given type of illness or injury.” Furthermore, the report states, “trauma systems provide a valuable model for how such coordination could and should operate.”
The subcommittee also passed H.R. 3548, the “Improving Trauma Care Act.” Introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), this legislation would change the definition of “trauma” to include burn injuries. In addition to the current definition — “The term trauma means an injury resulting from exposure to a mechanical force” — the following language was added: “or, another extrinsic agent, including an extrinsic agent that is thermal, electrical, chemical, or radioactive.”
Both bills are expected to be passed by the full committee in the next two weeks prior to proceeding to the House floor for a vote. The AANS and CNS Washington Office staff continue to work on getting companion measures introduced in the U.S. Senate.